Lorraine Kerwood turned a computer-repair hobby into a community endeavor. She is executive director of Oregon-based NextStep Recycling, which provides computers and job training to disadvantaged and special-needs people, and sells refurbished computers and other electronics at two ReUse stores.
Diagnosed with autism in her youth, Kerwood taught herself how to fix computers in college. While a social worker for the Oregon Department of Child Welfare, she began refurbishing old computers for people who couldn’t afford them, mainly her clients.
Demand was so high that in 2004 Kerwood quit her job and expanded her computer operation to a warehouse. NextStep refurbished 700 tons of electronics in 2008 and expects a 34 percent increase this year.